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I'm a new (game) streamer, I don't have a massive audience, and I find myself in quite a challenge.

Often when I play, some viewers will ask if they can play with me (or us if I'm already playing with friends).

The reason I do not want to play with what we call "randoms", as in, random people from the internet, is because I don't know them. I don't know if they're nice, if they're weird, of if they can be annoying.

Surprisingly often, they are just looking for friends, which is fair, and going on a small live stream is actually a smart way to do it. And I don't disagree with it. But I don't know this person, he hasn't been on my chat for long enough, I haven't talked to them more than, what, 10 minutes in my life.

I did it a couple of times, and both times I ended up regretting it. Once I played with a random from the audience and a friend, then had to leave so friend kept playing with the random. Now my friend keeps receiving invites and messages from this guy.

Another time, the dude was just particularly annoying to a point where I kinda wanted to kick him out of my game.

On one hand I'd like to keep control of my stream, my content, and the people on it. I know my friends, I don't stream with all of them because I know how they are. On the other hand, if I bring viewers on stream, it's a good way to make them love you even more, and possibly be happier, bring more viewers, and make other viewers happy "it could also be them". But doing that, I lose some control.

I have a very very small audience, I don't wanna sound like a massive jerk being "too big to play with you, peasant". I like making the audience happy, but in this case, in does not make me happy all the time. Sometimes I'm sure I'll meet great people, but it'll be ruined by the times I will meet the most idiotic person of my life.

Right now my solution is to refuse kind of abruptly, sometimes slipping a little lie like "I'd rather play alone right now", even though I wanted to play with friends and not randoms. And I end up not playing what I really wanted, making me a bit more "unhappy" with my stream and the viewer somewhat unhappy as well. I feel like everyone is losing.

I'm not asking "what should I do?", even though I kinda want to.

My question is:

How can I phrase a polite answer that basically says the following, in a respectful and understandable manner :

  • I don't know you enough
  • I would play with you if I did know you better
  • I'm sorry I have to refuse, I really am

I don't want to include restrictive rules, I don't want people to feel left out, specially when the channel is empty more often than not.

It's very awkward.

  • Hi Gil! Welcome on IPS! I'm curious to know whether you're being intimate in your streamings like some streamers do ('m not part of the game but for example PewDiePie or Joueur du Grenier who show their girlfriend and talk abt private stuff sometimes). Do you do the same? If so, it could encourage them to try to get closer, IMO. – avazula Mar 30 '18 at 13:07
  • Are you always playing games that have an online multiplayer element? – user8671 Mar 30 '18 at 13:10
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    @avazula For the moment I'm not particulary intimate because my viewers did not show any interest (yet). Maybe when I have a bigger audience it'll be brought up naturally, like people asking where I work and stuff like that. To them I'm mostly just a generic gamer I think :) – Gil Sand Mar 30 '18 at 13:16
  • @Kozaky No, sometimes I play solo games, which obviously makes my problem disappear for the time being. But I do play multiplayer games most of the time. – Gil Sand Mar 30 '18 at 13:16
  • This is unrelated to the question, but since you're a new streamer, might as well letting you know about "stream sniping": What is Stream Sniping? – Andrew T. Mar 31 '18 at 11:00
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As someone with a little streaming experience, I'd like to throw in my own two cents.

First and foremost, if someone asks if they can jump in and play with you and you flat out are not interested, stick to saying something like:

"Thanks for the offer! For now I (or we, if your friends are present) am going to stick to focusing on _______ (goal dependent on game... getting to the next level, winning 5 more games, etc)."

However, I'd like to propose one more alternative to consider. Creating a following as a streamer can be incredibly difficult, and interacting with your viewers is one of the best ways to get people to stick around while the channel grows.

Instead of completely throwing this type of viewer interaction to the wind, maybe you could set boundaries beforehand, such as having a set period of time during the week where you allow viewer participation in your games or picking viewers at random to participate in "X" amount of matches with you before you resume your own routine.

For a concrete example, let's say you only allow viewers to play with you on Tuesdays from 7pm-8pm. This does three great things for you.

  • Allows you to end your viewer participation at a set time without being rude

    Instead of being "trapped" with someone you don't want to play with because you don't want to be rude for dismissing them prematurely or abruptly, you now have an explicit time period that has been agreed upon for them to play with you. At the end of the time period, it won't seem rude when you say "Thanks for playing!" and dismiss them.

  • Allows you to redirect anyone asking to play at a different time to stop in on Tuesday at 7pm

    If you have an allotted rule for viewer participation, such as this one, now when viewers stop in on Thursday asking to play with you, you can say:

    "Actually, my viewer participation nights are Tuesdays around 7pm. Stop back then and we can play together!"

    This not only preserves viewer interaction, but it's going to get viewers who may normally only be there on Thursdays to also be there on Tuesdays, growing your crowd size and creating more participation.

  • Continues allowing viewers to actively participate in your stream, which will help it grow

    The entire reason for making such a compromise, but this time it's on your terms... Besides, having a structured time where viewers can participate is something larger streams have to do anyway. This could help you look more professional!

Long story short, there's no shame in telling your viewers that you don't want any viewer participation at the time, but you have a lot to benefit from should you still allow it. Your concerns and frustrations are all valid though, so consider if there are any rules you'd be comfortable setting to help you control your viewer participation instead of completely eliminating it.

  • 8
    Thanks Jess K, this is all very good advice. Having a set time specifically for viewer games actually fixes the problem, because there is no need to be rude, and with ground rules (like mentioned here and above), it also makes people more aware of their behaviour. All combined together, these answer will allow me to be respectful while keeping everyone happy. I think having that kind of structure is "having it both ways". I do keep control of the stream, and have decent control of that bit where I take "risks". And people will also be more comprehensive ! – Gil Sand Mar 30 '18 at 15:01
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    As an additional benefit, if you have someone who turns out to be a great fit, you could (outside of stream) ask them to join you on regular nights... And if you get enough people on your viewer participation nights, focusing on "new friends" can be a good way to reduce interaction with less than stellar viewers. – aslum Mar 30 '18 at 15:10
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    Yes, that is one of the reasons I'm interested in getting to know the community. I've actually already met someone like that and it just feels great to connect that way – Gil Sand Mar 30 '18 at 15:16
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If you are streaming games routinely that have an online multiplayer element, it is inevitable that viewers will ask to join in. If you are keen to not directly include them in your games, it will be worthwhile to make this an indiscriminate policy of your stream. I can appreciate that you want to avoid this but it is the only way some people will understand. There will be no way to please everyone.

If anyone asks to join in, just reply with "Thanks for the offer! But for the time being, I'm only looking to play by myself. It's what I've practised for and that's the experience I want to provide to the viewers."

Without bringing your other personal reasons into it, this will be best for making sure people don't feel excluded. During this time, it will still be healthy to stay in constant communication with the viewers who leave comments on the side, or by offering discussion topics for you and the viewers to discuss with each other.

You mentioned you play mostly multiplayer games. If you start to find returning viewers, it might be worthwhile bringing more single-player modes or games into the mix. At least in the early stages, this can encourage viewers not to expect / assume they can join in your games. If you are still engaging with the viewers in other ways, they will not feel left out.

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    That is also a solution, but right now most of my games are multi and I don't want to stream something I dont like just to avoid the discomfort of displeasing someone. So I guess I'll just include that policy and gently decline using a mix of both your answers :) In the end, there is indeed no way to please everyone :( – Gil Sand Mar 30 '18 at 14:03
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    The rules you set in place can be slightly more complicated than that (for example I only play with randoms once a month, or only on tuesdays...) This way you can refuse people that don't stick to the rule and play with them only on the occasions you have chosen – everyone Mar 30 '18 at 16:13
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EDIT: Meh, had left this page open and didn't see Jess K.'s answer before posting mine, however I'll just leave this here because I go a bit more in depth and provide some extras.

This might not be the best interpersonal answer but since I can only provide answers and no comments, here it goes.

I, myself, am not a streamer but I do play games and used to watch a lot of streamers. And I would like to suggest you use a practical approach.

You mention that

I dont' want to include restrictive rules

But quite frankly, I don't think there's another way around your issue. You can't have it both ways that you accept just about anyone and still be in charge over your own stream.

So what do you do? You set ground rules!

These are entirely up to you, but as you know, what I'll suggest is perfectly fine to do in the streamer-lifestyle. It's also a very common thing to do.

You don't want people to feel left out. So why not include them in your journey as a streamer? You could for example put the following in your bio (I'm assuming you stream on twitch). But more importantly, you can bring these rules up whenever the question to join you in a game comes up.

Suggested set of ground rules:

  • Open your stream up for your followers once a week, on a set day like Saturday.
  • Only people who are followers for longer than [fill in] amount of [weeks/months] can join.
  • These are open for all who comply with the above, but ask them to refrain from:
    • Excessive swearing (or not at all)
    • No racism or hate speech
    • Don't be annoying to other people that are joining
  • If you break any of the above, you will be kicked and banned from future open sessions.
  • Etc!

People who watch streams will not be surprised by any of these rules. It is such a common practice, like I've said.

Next, you also mention that

Surprisingly often, they are just looking for friends

So why not open up a community [discord/teamspeak/...] for your following. So they can find some active members, who are also into what you're playing, when you are not hosting an open session.

Now they can find people to play with over there. Later on, if your stream starts to take off you can make this a subscriber-only benefit and so on.

This way you exclude nobody. You are still in control of your stream, and you give people the option to play with you once a while.

In closing, I'd like to add that you should stream for your fun. This is also the best way to attract an active following. Be your own self, have a good time. And be interactive with your followers in other ways as well.

Good luck!

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    That is all actually very good advice. Setting ground rules is a good way of saying " you're welcome, but be respectful" ! Thanks man :) – Gil Sand Mar 30 '18 at 14:57
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Establish a policy, that way there is a process and protocol.

Example 1: (no requests) "I don't take requests to play at this time. This is for many reasons, and to decrease noise in my channel. When I do play with another person I extend the opportunity based on nothing."

Example 2: (yes requests) "I sometimes choose a person to play with, I do this based on mood and whim only. If you would like to be considered {establish noiseless way for them to raise their hand figuratively}, when I choose people in this pool will be considered." You could have an email alias that goes to a folder, some sort of chat flag, idk.

Both of those options are polite, but explicit about the "don't just ask me, while I'm doing something else, and break the flow, get out of here with that stuff"

3

Warning: I'm not a gamer. I'm more the type of girl who'd watch you draw your character on Photoshop. I just mean to say that I miss a lot of background and culture here.


I have a friend who is also a streamer (you can find him here, he's French but I think he streams in English), and who told me once that he was a bit annoyed because when he started streaming, it was with a game he enjoyed at that time. Now he's bored playing that game, but he quickly realized that his "followers" wouldn't watch his stream that often if he was playing something different (in fact he'd lose a big percentage of his viewers). So he kept going with that game that bored him for a while and ended up unhappy, or to be caricatural, famous but unhappy.

I don't stream but I think that when you stream, it's mainly for you, and for your own pleasure. IMO you shouldn't end up less happy when you do such things. I know it's multiplaying, but isn't there a way to tell those people:

Heh, thanks for the offer, but you know, strange as it may sound, I'd rather play alone for now. I'm just here to enjoy streaming.

From your question, I understand that it's not true that you'd like to play alone, and that you'd like to play with your friends. But would they know? I may not make much sense here, but it seems to me like it's the easiest option.

  • i'd be happy to be drawn while playing haha :D That seems like a very creative way to spend your time. I completely agree with you on the subject, I should do what makes me happy. But streaming/sharing is also caring, being nice shouldn't make me "unhappy". Although I will probably follow your advice and gently decline the offer the way you showed it. – Gil Sand Mar 30 '18 at 14:01
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There is no need to overthink this.

Sorry, no.

That's it. As always, giving excuses/reasons (true or otherwise) only opens you up to counter-proposals or attempts to defend against the excuses/reasons ("you say you haven't got time but I only need one hour a week!") when in truth you are simply not interested at all.

You could add more words in an attempt to protect their "feelings", but as you said yourself these are randoms that you know nothing about. Attempting to protect the "feelings" of someone you know nothing about is a fool's quest — you will never be able to get it right. So don't even try. You don't owe them anything.

In practice, I wouldn't expect anyone to be "upset" by this approach anyway. They will simply go "oh well" and move on to somebody else. Problem solved!

Learning to just say no (and learning that it is not inherently rude) is a key skill.

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